Striking results as to the prevalence of sexual violence for both males and females
The CDC released its latest survey on rape and intimate partner violence today, and the news is troubling. According to the latest government data, nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped or experienced attempted rape by men, while 1 in 4 reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. Linda Degutis, the director of the study told the New York Times that the results were “striking” and “surprising.” “I don’t think we’ve really known that it was this prevalent in the population”, she said.
The study also makes it clear that men can be victims too. 1 in 71 men reported having been raped – many when they were small boys. 1 in 7 had been physically battered by a lover or spouse. Interestingly, for the first time a national survey of male victims of rape distinguished being “forced to penetrate” a male or female abuser from other forms of sexual assault.
And among males it is little boys, not adults or teens, who are at the greatest risk. 28% of male victims reported that they were raped when they were 10 or younger, while only 12% of female victims were sexually assaulted by that age. For boys, the most vulnerable years seem to be between 6-10, while for girls, the most statistically dangerous period of their lives coincides with puberty. This doesn’t mean that preteen girls aren’t victimized; it does mean that the onset of adolescence offers much statisical greater protection for boys than it does for their sisters.
Though men remain the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of rape, the new research makes it more evident than ever that men are also its victims. Despite recent claims about a proliferation of female rapists, the CDC found that “male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators.” Close to 50% of all stalking victimizations that men experienced were also perpetrated by men.
It can’t be said often enough: men are victims too. Male suffering in the aftermath of sexual assault is as real and profound as what women endure. But at the same time, there’s no point in denying the realities that this study drives home: men are the primary perpetrators of sexual violence, particularly against preteen boys and adolescent girls. For the sake of the sons and daughters who are equally deserving of our protection, let’s design prevention programs accordingly.
photo: uaeincredible / Flickr